Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Two days--TWO DAYS--until the start of the Toronto Silent Film Festival, 2012. I can't wait.

Well of course I can't wait. I live in Toronto, I love silent films, and I especially love seeing them on a big screen. With live accompaniment.  And if it's a mix of old and new silents I'll be seeing, that's even better. And if there are rarieties, oddities and obscurities to see, and some classics too, naturally, and...and...and...

...well, it'll be a good time then, won't it?

Below is this year's schedule. Rest assured, I'll be in attendance for as many of these screenings as I can, and will happily write about the films I see. TSFF impressario Shirley Hughes has kindly included some films I haven't seen, but have always wanted to.

Note: I'm listing only the feature presentations TSFF will be screening each evening. Several nights include short films as well, including the modern-day silents produced by various artists for the Toronto Urban Film Festival. Visit TSSF's website for full details.

See you there!

Thursday March 29
8pm (doors open at 7:30pm)
Innis Town Hall 2 Sussex Ave Toronto
Tickets $15.00

Friday March 30
TABU (1931) 
The Carlton Cinema
20 Carlton Street Toronto
Tickets $10.00

Saturday March 31 
4pm (doors open at 3:30)
The Revue 400 Roncesvalles Ave. Toronto
Tickets $12.00/$10.00 seniors and members

Sunday April 1

(Featuring Keaton, Arbuckle, Chaplin, and various lesser-known comics) 
The Fox Theatre 2236 Queen Street East. Toronto
(Queen East between Beech and Willow)
Tickets $12.00/$10.00 Seniors and members

Monday April 2
8pm (doors open at 7:30pm) 
Casa Loma 1 Austin Terrace, Toronto 
Tickets $20.00 

Tuesday April 3
VARIETE (1925) 
8pm (doors open 7:30pm)
Innis Town Hall
2 Sussex Ave Toronto
Tickets $15.00

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Street of Forgotten Men (1925)

“The Street of Forgotten Men” is a romantic name for a dirty place. It’s one of several such names in the movie; some uglier, but all of them memorable: Diamond Mike’s; The Death House; The Cripple Factory. Sleazy dives and hideouts, every one. But granted a certain drama, thanks to their monikers.

The Forgotten Men are hustlers. Beggars, really—wandering the sidewalks of a city filled with unsympathetic regular folk, unwilling to part with their dimes. To survive, these men need gimmicks. They need to be dramatic. In the back room of Diamond Mike’s tavern, they’re given the means.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Helen of Four Gates (1920)

I don’t know if madness really runs in families. It seems like an old-fashioned idea—borne more from an urge to predict a person’s future than to discover the truth about an illness. It could also be a terrible way to slander someone. In Helen of Four Gates, it is exactly that.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Dark Mirror (1920)

A young painter: daughter of a dead one, wealthy and pretty, holes herself up in her studio day after day. She even sleeps there, most nights. She avoids her family and rarely socializes. She fears she’s going mad.
We could believe she is. Conditions seem right. If Priscilla Maine (Dorothy Dalton) is losing her mind, then living in a tiny space, with no one to talk to, surrounded by the products of her imagination, would certainly help the process along.

Monday, March 19, 2012

This is What I Sound Like.

Here's a podcast featuring me, alongside the eminent director of the Toronto Silent Film Festival, Shirley Hughes. We're discussing silent film, of course: past and present, why we love it, why everyone else should too, and the Festival itself, which begins later this month.

Many thanks to Ryan McNeil of The Matinee, who set up this podcast earlier in March. He chose a local pub for a venue, which gave me the opportunity to drink a beer while trying to sound smart. Good man, that Ryan McNeil.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Regeneration (1915)

Marie Deering sits at her dinner table, dressed to the nines. Beside her is the new D.A., promising to sweep the streets clean of gangsters. He’s already pleased with himself. Marie turns to him. “Really though,” she says, “they must be awfully interesting people.”

Aren’t they just. Raoul Walsh, the man who directed this scene, certainly thought so. Regeneration was one of the first of many movies he made about lowlifes, redeemable or otherwise. It’s a strange story, about men and women outgrowing the roles they’re expected to play. Stranger still, since the film itself seems to do the same thing.

Friday, March 2, 2012

For the Love of Film, Part III

I mistyped that title a moment ago...wrote "Party III"... but hey, why not? This will be fun. The White Shadow (1923) is an early Hitchcock film (sort of), and now, we have an opportunity to view it for free, online, for four months, with a brand-spanking-new score. At least, if the proper funds can be raised. I'll leave the details of this blogathon to the skilled scribe behind Self-Styled Siren--as worthy a classic film blog as you'll ever read--but watch here, in the coming months, for my own contribution to it. Like many great directors, Hitch got his start in the years before sound, so there's a rich selection of silent films for me to watch and write about. I am open to suggestions.